3 books all recent college graduates should read

Graduation season is here — and after celebrating the end of classes and collecting their diplomas, millions of newly minted graduates will face a new challenge: navigating post-grad life.

There’s no step-by-step manual for what to do after leaving school, but books can provide practical advice and inspiration on how to succeed in this next chapter.

If you’re a new graduate looking for a summer read or shopping for a college graduation gift, these three books, recommended by Joy Asher, the the director of Centre College’s center for career and professional development, should be at the top of your list.

‘The Exceptional Professional: What You Need to Know to Grow Your Career’

By Callista Gould 

Tackling the transition from the classroom to the workplace is no simple feat. Networking or figuring out what to wear to the office might feel intimidating at first, but “The Exceptional Professional” walks graduates through everything they need to know about the professional world in clear details, from preparing for a job interview to writing a work email. 

Asher’s a fan of the less obvious tips Gould passes on, too, like the red flags that recruiters look out for during the hiring process and how often to check your cellphone in the office. “Students usually don’t have to think, or worry, about these things before graduation, but they’re important skills to have,” she tells CNBC Make It. “I love Gould’s book because it has a lot of practical tidbits for improving your professional etiquette in a short amount of time.” 

‘Ten Feet Tall: Step Into Your Truth and Change Your Freaking World’

By Brandon Farbstein 

“Ten Feet Tall” — which builds off of a viral Ted Talk Farbstein gave in 2015 — chronicles his experience with bullying, isolation and suffering as a person with metatropic dysplasia, a rare form form of dwarfism, and how he turned his pain into a life of fulfillment, purpose and joy. 

Asher recognizes that there’s a lot of pressure on recent graduates to think about their five-year or even 10-year career plan, but Farbstein’s writing is a salve for post-graduation fears and anxieties.

“You can’t always avoid negativity or conflict, but you can control how you respond to adversity, and Farbstein coaches readers on how to do that,” Asher explains. “He also touches on the importance of having a positive, grateful attitude about life, thinking about how your work can impact others, and it’s all shared in a down-to-earth way.” 

‘The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter’

By: Michael D. Watkins 

Watkins, an expert on leadership and organizational change, offers a detailed roadmap for exactly what to do in the first three months of transitioning into a new role, whether it’s your first job out of college, an internal promotion or a different work scenario. 

There’s tips for working in a team, setting short and long-term goals, how to impress your boss and more. “The first 90 days in a new job are key, and Watkins offers a helpful guide for how to come in right off the bat and get some early wins without feeling completely overwhelmed,” Asher says. 

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